Paul Ryan’s tenure as Speaker of the House has come to an end, and the Wisconsin Republican will leave Congress as one of the least popular leaders in recent history.
On Thursday, the new members of Congress were sworn in, and Democrats regained control. Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, had already announced in 2018 that he would not be seeking re-election. As the left-leaning website Daily Kos noted, he leaves with the support of roughly one out of every nine Americans.
“Paul Ryan leaves office as an astonishingly unpopular man,” the report noted.
Citing poll tracking numbers from Civiqs, the report noted that Ryan’s favorability rating ended at just 12 percent. In the two years that the poll tracked Ryan’s favorability, it never went above 25 percent — and he only hit 50 percent with Republicans one time.
Ryan was popular enough with Wisconsin voters, and likely could have been re-elected had he run in 2018. Despite a Democratic wave nationwide, Republican Bryan Steil still won the largely conservative district in November’s election.
Ryan remained very unpopular nationwide, however. As CNN noted in a report from April, Ryan was even more unpopular than Donald Trump, who is the least popular modern president — according to FiveThirtyEight polls.
“Ryan’s net favorability (favorable – unfavorable rating) in a recent Quinnipiac University poll stood at -23 percentage points,” the report noted. “That was actually below President Donald Trump’s rating in the same survey of -22 percentage points. And remember, Trump is the most unpopular president in recorded history at this point in an administration.”
Today the best House Speaker of modern times reclaims the gavel from the worst. Paul Ryan leaves office with 12%, that's right, 12% favorability — and 75% unfavorable 1/ pic.twitter.com/FZuIlejGNM
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) January 3, 2019
Ryan shouldered much of the blame for a dysfunctional Congress — and for a series of governmental shutdowns under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Ryan had remained on the sidelines for the latest government shutdown, as Trump negotiated mostly with the incoming Democratic leadership in Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.
While working to pass the priorities of President Donald Trump, Paul Ryan also took steps to distance himself from the unpopular president. Ryan spoke out against Trump at times, and in his farewell speech to Congress appeared to make a veiled reference to Trump when lamenting the nation’s “broken politics,” Time magazine noted.
Part of Paul Ryan’s low favorability may be his own doing, the Daily Kos suggested. The site noted that Ryan has garnered a reputation as a policy wonk, concerned more with the intricate details of government than his perception among voters. He will now leave government for work in the private sector, where his approval ratings will no longer be a factor.